eWEEK Labs Shows You How to Build Your Own Virtualization Testbed

By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2009-03-09 Print this article Print

Building a virtual machine testbed is an important part of any application testing or development work. Testbeds not only determine how an application performs, but also how it fits in an enterprise's overall IT environment. Money may be tight in these difficult economic times, but building such a testbed does not have to be an expensive proposition. eWEEK Labs was able to build a testbed of an OpenFiler iSCSI NAS server and a VMware ESXI virtualization instance using a combination of free software and some hardware found here and there.

For application developers and IT administrators, virtual testbeds are crucial tools in determining how applications perform and how well they will fit within an enterprise's IT environment. Building such a testbed doesn't have to cost a lot of money, a key concern at a time when IT budgets are taking a hit while demand on IT continues to grow. I set about to build a virtual testbed out of free software and legacy hardware in the Labs.

The following are the steps I took to build an OpenFiler iSCSI NAS server and a VMware ESXi bare metal virtualization instance. Click on each of the steps for a slide show illustrating the process in more detail.

1. The first step was finding the hardware and figuring out the layout. Again, all that was used here was hardware found around the lab. Using this and adding a SATA RAID controller and some USB sticks, I put together an iSCSI NAS device and a management workstation. I also used a host of free software.

2. Next came installing OpenFiler from formatting to setting the password, and making sure it could be managed via a Web browser.

3. The third part was configuring OpenFiler to get it ready to work with VMware ESXi.

4. Next came installing ESXi onto a USB flash drive, a process that should take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

5. Finally, I configured ESXi to get the testbed up and running.

Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.

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